What are Analog and Digital Signals? – Definition, Difference, Examples

A signal is an electrical or electromagnetic quantity that transports data or information from one system to another. For data transmission, two types of signals are used: Analog signals and digital signals. 

Analog and digital signals are very different in many ways. An analog signal is a continuous function, whereas a digital signal is a discontinuous function. 

What are Analog and Digital Signals? - Definition, Difference, Examples

Types of Signals

Signals are classified into two types: 

Continuous-time signals/ Analog signals: A continuous-time signal is any continuous function of time. 

Discrete-time signals/ Digital Signals: A discrete-time signal is any series of real numbers separated by equal time increments (or samples). 

Analog and Digital Signals Diagram

What Exactly are Analog Signals?

Analog signals are used to create information-carrying signals in a variety of systems. Both in terms of quantities and time, these signals are continuous. As technology evolved, digital transmissions repealed the use of Analog signals. Signals that are natural or occur naturally are analog signals. 

Examples of Analog Signal

Any natural sound, human voice, and data read by analog devices are examples of analog signals. 

What is Digital Signal?

A digital signal is one that is a discrete function of time rather than a continuous signal. Digital signals are binary in nature and consist of discrete voltage values at discrete times. 

A digital signal, in essence, represents data and information as a sequence of discrete values at any given time. The digital signal has a limited number of values. 

Examples of digital signals

Digital signals are used in all digital electronics, including computers, Digital watches, Digital videos, CDs, DVDs, etc. 

Difference between Analog Signals and Digital Signals

The table below highlights all the key differences between Analog and digital transmissions. 

Parameter  Analog Signal  Digital Signal 
Definition  Analog signals are used to communicate information in a continuous function of time.  A digital signal transmits data in a discrete function of time. 
Signal values  Analog signals represent data and information using a continuous range of values.  Digital signals use discrete values 0 and 1. 
Signal bandwidth  The bandwidth is low.  The bandwidth is high. 
Suitability  Analog signals are better suited for transmitting audio, video, and other data via communication channels.  The digital signals are appropriate for computer and digital electronic processes such as data storage and other things. 
Effect of electronic noise  Analog signals are easily influenced by electrical noise.  Digital signals are more reliable and resistant to noise than Analog ones. 
Accuracy  Because analog signals are more susceptible to noise, their accuracy is reduced.  As digital signals are noise-free, they have high accuracy. 
Power consumption  Analog transmissions require more power to transmit data.  Digital transmissions utilize less power than analog signals. 
Circuit components  Resistors, capacitors, inductors, and other components  Transistors, logic gates, ICs, etc. 
Examples  Temperature, current, voltage, voice, pressure, and speed are all examples of analog signals.  Data storage in computer memory is one of the examples of digital signals. 
Applications  Used in landline phones, thermometers, radios, and other devices.  Used in computers, keyboards, digital watches, and other electronic devices. 


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